Is pelvic sentinel node biopsy necessary for lower extremity and trunk melanomas?

Am J Surg. 2017 May;213(5):921-925. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2017.03.028. Epub 2017 Mar 27.


Objective: There is currently no consensus regarding how to address pelvic sentinel lymph nodes (PSLNs) in melanoma. Thus, our objectives were to identify the incidence and clinical impact of PSLNs.

Methods: Retrospective review of a prospectively collected multi-institutional melanoma database.

Results: Of 2476 cases of lower extremity and trunk melanomas, 227 (9%) drained to PSLNs (181 to both PSLNs and superficial (inguinal or femoral) sentinel lymph nodes (SSLN) and 46 to PSLNs alone). Seventeen (7.5%) of 227 PSLN cases were positive for nodal metastasis, 8 of which drained to PSLNs only while 9 drained to both PSLNs and SSLNs. Complication rates between PSLN and SSLN biopsy were similar (15% vs. 14% respectively). In 181 cases with drainage to both SSLNs and PSLNs, PSLN biopsy upstaged one patient (0.6%), and completion dissection based on a positive PSLN did not upstage any.

Conclusions: PSLN biopsy is safe, however in the setting of negative SSLNs there is minimal clinical impact. We therefore recommend PSLN biopsy when the SSLNs are positive or when the tumor drains to PSLNs alone.

Keywords: Iliac/obturator node; Melanoma; Pelvic node; Sentinel lymph node biopsy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity
  • Lymph Node Excision
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Melanoma / pathology*
  • Melanoma / surgery
  • Middle Aged
  • Pelvis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / surgery
  • Torso